Come Black Friday, the holiday season is officially here. Whether you’re ahead of the game and your shopping is already done, or you’re saving the gift getting for this weekend, we’re sharing some helpful tips for protecting your financial information.
1. Use strong passwords
Online shopping has simplified the gift getting process, but it has also made consumers increasingly vulnerable to fraud. If you’re asked to create an account with a specific retailer, always be sure to use a strong password and 2-step verification when possible.
If you’re struggling to create a secure password, you can use a random password generator. Password generators assist by creating strong, unique, and random passwords with the click of a button. Once you’ve generated your password, be mindful to not use it across multiple accounts. To increase your online security, each of your online accounts should have a unique password.
Since unique and complex passwords can be difficult to remember, especially if you have many of online accounts, try using a password manager.
2. Avoid phishing emails
If you receive an email or text stating you’ve won a substantial amount of money or you owe the IRS some sort of fee, you could be the target of a phishing scam. Phishing scams are when nefarious actors attempt to gain access to personal information such as social security numbers, passwords, and bank accounts.
If you receive a suspicious email or text, do not reply or open any links it may contain. Doing so could compromise your privacy. Instead, report the phishing scam to the Federal Trade Commission.
3. Choose credit over debit
From credit card skimmers to online security breaches, companies big and small have fallen victim to security breaches. While customers are eventually notified of potential or confirmed breaches, it’s typically long after the event has occurred.
To minimize long term damage, as a customer, use credit cards when possible as they offer the best liability protection. Credit cards can easily be frozen in the event that your information has been compromised, and many credit card companies offer protection on fraudulent purchases. Contact your bank and credit card options to verify your protections should you fall victim to fraudulent charges or stolen personal data.
4. Avoid public WiFi
Never log in to any of your personal accounts or make online purchases while connected to public WiFi. Any information passing through unsecured WiFi networks can be intercepted; this includes bank credentials, usernames, passwords, and emails. If you must perform a transaction or log in to an account while on the go, the more secure method for doing so would be to use mobile data.
5. Shop secure websites
While you’re shopping online, take note of the website’s security. Online retailers should have a web address that begins “https:” or a padlock next to the URL. This signifies that the site is secure. Never enter credit card information into an unsecured site.